Lionel Messi is “the best player in history” and should stay at Barcelona, claims LaLiga president Javier Tebas, who laughed off the suggestion of Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland joining a Spanish club.
On Sunday, Messi overtook Xavi as the player with the most appearances for Barca, six days after the 33-year-old scored a 20th LaLiga player for the 13th successive season – another record.
The Argentina forward has been involved in more goals in 2021 than any other player across Europe’s ‘top five’ leagues, but he still has not tied his future to the Catalan club, who he wished to leave in 2020.
Messi elected to stay and see out the last year of his contract, but his future remains up in the air with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain interested.
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) March 21, 2021
Tebas has consistently urged Messi to remain in Spain but has also refuted the suggestion LaLiga would suffer markedly without the Barca star, citing examples of Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo leaving for PSG and Juventus respectively.
He reiterated those comments on Wednesday, suggesting Messi would damage his “brand” by moving to another club.
“If I were Messi’s advisor I would tell him, ‘Stay at Barca’,” Tebas told reporters.
“I want Messi to stay. He is the best player in history. If you are thinking about his last years of football, he should continue to be linked to the Barcelona brand.
“He started at Barcelona and I think he should continue at Barca. If I was his advisor, I would tell him he must do everything possible to stay at Barca.”
While Messi continues to break records at Barca, his era of dominance in European football appears to be coming to an end.
Mbappe and Haaland are the players seemingly destined to take the baton from Messi and Ronaldo, with the Borussia Dortmund and PSG stars already having been pitted against each other by media outlets across the continent.
Mbappe, 22, hit his 100th Ligue 1 goal in a 4-2 win over Lyon on Sunday, while 20-year-old Haaland has been in sensational form since breaking through with Salzburg last season.
100 – Kylian Mbappé has scored eight goals against Lyon in Ligue 1, doing better only against Dijon (11). He has reached the 100 goals scored in the top-flight (84 with Paris, 16 with Monaco). Amazing. pic.twitter.com/vfMDuZzyPk
— OptaJean (@OptaJean) March 21, 2021
Between them, the duo have shared 41 goals in all competitions this season (21 for Haaland, 20 for Mbappe), while they have both converted 17 of the 27 “big chances” they have been afforded at a rate of 62.96 per cent.
Often utilised in a wide role for PSG, Mbappe has provided six assists and crafted 25 chances. Haaland has also proved his worth from a creative standpoint, teeing up four goals and forging 19 opportunities for team-mates to score.
Mbappe has often been linked with a move to Barca or Real Madrid but is in talks with PSG over a new deal, while Haaland is reportedly a priority target for Pep Guardiola’s City, and Tebas sees little chance of either player moving to LaLiga.
“How, with a magic trick?” Tebas quipped when asked of the likelihood of seeing Mbappe or Haaland playing in Spain.
“Barca have to move out many players to bring a star, Madrid are not in position to do it either. Apart from the clubs owned by nation states, everyone has financial issues.”